SoBoCo Aug. 31 Huck

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ASHLAND - While many students in mid-Missouri are already back at school, kids and administrators in southern Boone County are counting down the days until they have to return.

It's a busy schedule for both students and teachers before they head back.

On Wednesday, new teachers at the elementary school participated in active shooter training with local law enforcement. On Wednesday and Thursday, students meet their teachers at an open house. Crews are finishing up construction on new classrooms at the primary school. In addition, the school board will hold a tax rate hearing Thursday morning. All of this is taking place before students return on September 5.

Superintendent Chris Felmlee said the tax rate hearing is important because growth within the city of Ashland allows for growth in the school district.

"It's a very busy time here," Felmlee said. "We just added eight new classrooms in the primary school and five in the elementary school. Ashland keeps growing and so do we."

School Board President Barrett Glascock said though the tax rate will not increase much, Ashland will capitalize on commercial growth.

"The tax rate will basically be the exact same," Glascock said. "We are required to approve a tax levy each year but it's not changing much and that's good for the residents of Ashland. There are some new businesses coming into town and that's going to help our tax base because it will help raise the assessed valuation."

Felmlee agreed, saying commercial growth is beneficial to taxing entities like the school district.

"Commercial business doesn't use our resources, whereas residential and new housing typically means more kids," Felmlee said. 

Felmlee said Ashland is experiencing a lot of residential growth, and the school district has grown by 40 to 50 kids every year. 

"I think we will continue to grow over the next few years," Felmlee said. "I'm already working with the board on our next bond issue which could be April 2018. The school district will probably be under construction the next ten years. We want to plan for, and stay ahead of, this increase in students."

Glascock said the board is keeping up with district space demands but must continue to plan.

"All the new classrooms we have built will be full when we start school next week," Glascock said. "All the kindergarten rooms will be filled with brand new, anxiously waiting kindergartners. That's what we want to see."

The tax rate hearing will be held in the Middle School Annex at 7 a.m. on Thursday and is open to the public.